Write down the names of James Heddo and Steve McMahon in your little red book as the ‘odds-on favourites’ to continue making the Sydney Autumn Carnival greater in the world of international thoroughbred racing.
Yes James, Steve and James are lifting the Sydney Autumn Carnival higher, further enriching the Longines Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday 18 March and The Championships, featuring the $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes, at Royal Randwick on Saturday 1, 8 April.
The Longines Golden Slipper Day will host five Group 1 events featuring the $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper Stakes for 2yo’s over 1200m, won last year by the Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Capitalist, ridden by Blake Shinn for Peter and Paul Snowden.
The $1m Sky Racing Rosehill Guineas of 2000m for 3yo’s is the chief support event and is run in addition to the $1m George Ryder Stakes over 1500m, the $700,000 Ranvet Stakes of 2000m and for the sprinters the $700,000 The Galaxy 1100m.
The $3m The Star Doncaster Mile of 1600m is the highlight event on Day 1 of The Championships, Saturday 1 April with the Darley TJ Smith Stakes of 1200m carrying $2.5 million in prize money. The classic $2m BMW Australian Derby is for 3yo’s run over 2400m, the $1m Inglis Sires’ of 1400m for 2yo’s and The Country Championship Final of 1400m.
The Championships Day 2 is Saturday 8 April featuring the $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes of 2000m at standard weight-for-age along with the $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup 3200m for stayers.
In addition the $1m James Boag’s Australian Oaks of 2400m is open to 3yo fillies, the new event the $1m Coolmore Legacy Stakes 1600m is for fillies and mares at weight-for-age, with The Provincial Championships Final 1400m concluding The Championships.
James Heddo in his role of Executive General of Racing is leading the ATC's Racing Department in delivering international standard racing, developing racing programs, building relationships, growing wagering and the management and development of the Club' tracks and stables.
James has been in this role at the ATC on 12 months having had a successful seven years as Chief Executive of Gosford Race Club and Chairman of the Provincial Racing Association. James commenced at the Sydney Turf Club almost 30 years ago, going on to be Chief Executive Officer at the Townsville Turf Club and later Bendigo Jockey Club before joining Gosford.
Steve McMahon joined the Australian Turf Club in February 2016 and previously as Chief Executive of the NSW Trainers Association for 5 years he led the initiative to establish the Country Championships.
Steve’s role is to build a strategic plan for Sydney racing in association with Darren Pearce, the ATC Chief Executive, in delivering key projects in corporate and racing, and to strengthen the ATC's business base. Steve had previously been Chief of Staff for the Minister for Gaming and Racing.
It could be said Royal Randwick’s glory days began in 1979. The AJC Committee transferring the AJC Derby to the Sydney Autumn Carnival, with the first running in 1979 resulting in a dramatic finish.
The Colin Hayes owned and trained Dulcify, ridden by Brett Thomson, gaining the race on protest from Double Century, ridden by the wiley veteran Mick Mallyon, who had run Dulcify to the outside rail when finishing down the long Randwick straight.
The Australian Jockey Club developed into a world class race club under the management of Ray Alexander, the AJC Chief Executive and John Schreck the Chief Stipendiary Steward, and while under Mr Jim Bell’s AJC Chairmanship Sydney’s Autumn and Spring Carnivals continued to grow in statute.
The AJC became a world leader in the 1980s and early 1990s when world racing was at its peak and in 1990-91 AJC prizemoney rose to $19 million driven by the NSW Totalisator Agency Board’s growth. Foreign investment flowed into the Hunter Valley stud farms with legendry trainer TJ Smith paying an Australian record $1.2 million for a Sir Tristram filly at the 1989 Sydney Easter Yearling Sale
The Sydney Turf Club staged Sydney’s first international race, the Tancred International Stakes, at Rosehill in 1987 with Beau Zam, ridden by John Marshall for Bart Cummings, defeating the visitors.
The Sydney Turf Club, with the increasing popular Golden Slipper Festival, became Sydney’s leading race club in the later 1990s and 2000s chiefly through the management of Pat Parker and Michael Kenny, and under the presidency of Graham Pash, Bill Picken, and previously Jim Fleming.
And what now for the growth of the Sydney Autumn Carnival …. Racing NSW’s John Messara introduced The Championships in 2014 and Peter V’landys greatly raised prizemoney through Parity. Will a $3 million yearling be sold at the 2017 Australian Easter Yearling Sale!